Scrivener for language learning

I’ve not seen any posts on using Scrivener as a tool for language learning. I’ve been doing this now for a few months and found it really useful, so I thought I’d describe the (simple) method I use in case anybody else finds it helpful (or in case there are improvements I could use).

I’m learning Latin using Lingua Per Se Illustrata, which is an beginners textbook entirely in Latin. It’s possible to buy a CD of the course, which includes both written and audio versions of the text, in a dedicated program which only runs on Windows, which is why I don’t use it (quite apart from the fact that the program is fairly old and clunky now).

First of all, I had to convert the text to pdf format (it’s in jpg on the CD), then I imported both the pdfs and the mp3s to Scrivener. (By the way, I do own the CD - no laws were harmed in the making of this post…) So now, as I work through the textbook, my workflow is…

  • Read through the chapter text aloud twice. [Single document window]

  • Listen to the mp3, transcribing the Latin (into Latin). [Horizontally split window, mp3 in the top, text document below, with the focus on the lower window and using the Cmd-Enter shortcut key to start and stop the audio. I use the automatic rewinding facility, so I always hear the previous 3 seconds.]

  • Complete the questions at the end of the Chapter. [Horizontally split window, pdf in the top, text document below, focus on the lower window and paging up and down through the pdf using the Ctrl-Opt-Cmd-Up and Ctrl-Opt-Cmd-Down shortcuts. I also have the pdf in a separate Quicklook window for reference.]

I use other programs for vocabulary (Keep Your Word) and grammar notes (DevonThink). The workflow above is made easier by having both the written and audio text already provided, but I’ve found the step of transcribing the Latin so useful that in future, if the audio isn’t already there, I intend to record it myself.

That’s it - nothing revelatory but I think it shows Scrivener’s flexibility that I could adapt the basic functionality so easily into something which really helps me.



Thanks for sharing this. I teach Latin and am currently writing a text supplement using Scrivener and OmniOutliner. I am quite familiar with Lingva Latina and consider it one of the best. My district, however, just bought a different series. I am always looking for new methods of teaching / learning Latin. Nice to hear that this is working so well for you.

Interesting to read. And indeed, Scrivener can be used for many things!

Another app I often use for learning is the free app Anki: A combination with Anki for iPhone/iPad/iTouch (via iTune) will make it even more useful. Anki for iPhone is not for free, but very good, and very portable…

Kind regards.


I’m currently using Mental Case which can also use cards from the Flashcard Exchange. The desktop app is Mac only ($20 plus a free cent), and there are iPhone and iPad apps which work together well.

If uses a set of schedules to repeat words at various intervals (and repeated more frequently if you get the word wrong).



I practice with native people and I learn the Spanish language. But I did not know of any of these alternatives that I’m going to try, I like Spanish because other languages come out in common. lslanguages